U.S. Bishops Vote in Favor of Three Additional Bishop Accountability Measures During Baltimore General Assembly
June 13, 2019
BALTIMORE — Today, U.S. Catholic Bishops have approved three additional measures to address abuse and bishop accountability during their annual Spring General Assembly in Baltimore. The measures expand upon the Pope Francis’s Motu proprio and the U.S. Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The reforms are designed to hold bishops accountable for instances of sexual misconduct against minors and vulnerable adults.
The first vote, Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops, passed by 212 to 4 with 1 abstention. This form of accountability provides protocols for imposing limitations on former bishops who were removed from office for grave reasons. It also empowers the USCCB president to restrict bishops removed or resigned for reasons related to sexual abuse or abuse of power.
A second vote, Acknowledging Our Episcopal Commitments passed by 217 to 1 with 2 abstentions. This accountability measure implements a bishop code of conduct, including the affirmation that the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is expanded to include bishops as well as priests and deacons.
The third vote, Directives for the Implementation of the Provisions of Vos estis lux mundi Concerning Bishops and their Equivalents, presents a plan for optimal implementation of Pope Francis’s recent Motu proprio in the United States, including an outline for lay involvement. It passed by 218 to 1 with 2 abstentions.
Yesterday, the body of bishops passed another bishop accountability reform, voting for the establishment of a Third-Party Reporting System for receiving confidentially, by phone and online, reports of possible violations by bishops of Vos estis lux mundi. The action item commits to activating the system no later than May 31, 2020.
To view the full action item documents pertaining to bishop accountability voted on yesterday and today, please visit: www.usccb.org/meetings
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has revised and clarified norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable in protecting minors as well as in protecting members of religious orders and seminarians from abuse.
The new juridical instrument is meant to help bishops and religious leaders around the world clearly understand their duties and church law, underlining how they are ultimately responsible for proper governance and protecting those entrusted to their care. For this reason, the new document establishes a clearer set of universal procedures for reporting suspected abuse, carrying out initial investigations and protecting victims and whistleblowers.
Read the motu proprio with the revised and clarified norms and procedures
Read the response from Cardinal DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
In a recent interview, the Most Rev. Thomas Olmsted, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix and leader of 1.2 million Catholics, opens up about the state of the Catholic Church and the positive work that’s being done in the community locally, as the Phoenix Diocese is one of the fastest growing dioceses in the United States.
Watch the interview below or at 12News.com
Read the text of Pope Francis’ concluding address at the Meeting on “The Protection of Minors in the Church”:
“As I thank the Lord who has accompanied us during these days, I would like to thank all of you for the ecclesial spirit and concrete commitment that you have so generously demonstrated.
Our work has made us realize once again that the gravity of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors is, and historically has been, a widespread phenomenon in all cultures and societies. Only in relatively recent times has it become the subject of systematic research, thanks to changes in public opinion regarding a problem that was previously considered taboo; everyone knew of its presence yet no one spoke of it. I am reminded too of the cruel religious practice, once widespread in certain cultures, of sacrificing human beings – frequently children – in pagan rites. Yet even today, the statistics available on the sexual abuse of minors drawn up by various national and international organizations and agencies (the WHO, UNICEF, INTERPOL, EUROPOL and others) do not represent the real extent of the phenomenon, which is often underestimated, mainly because many cases of the sexual abuse of minors go unreported, particularly the great number committed within families.”
President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Issues Statement at Close of Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church
ROME — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement on the final day of a four day meeting attended by Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences from across the globe. Read Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement.
PHOENIX (Feb. 20, 2019) — The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, released the following statement as the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church gets underway:
“As the bishops, religious and others from across the worldwide Church gather in Rome with Pope Francis for the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church, I ask you to join me in prayer that the voices of survivors will be heard, that Church leadership will be filled with humility and contrition, and systems to protect children and vulnerable adults will be strengthened.
The topics of responsibility, accountability and transparency will be part of the presentations and discussions. Critical to the outcome of this meeting will be the development of systems and processes to hold accountable members of the hierarchy who have perpetuated the cover-up of abuse. May the Holy Spirit bring light, wisdom and courage to those gathered with our Holy Father.”
Learn more about the meeting: http://www.pbc2019.org/home
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has confirmed the removal from the priesthood of Theodore E. McCarrick, the 88-year-old former cardinal and archbishop of Washington.
The Vatican announced the decision Feb. 16, saying he was found guilty of “solicitation in the sacrament of confession and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”
A panel of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith found him guilty Jan. 11, the Vatican said. McCarrick appealed the decision, but the appeal was rejected Feb. 13 by the congregation itself. McCarrick was informed of the decision Feb. 15 and Pope Francis “recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law,” making a further appeal impossible.
Archbishop Carlo Viganò, a former papal representative to the U.S., has written an open letter to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick that urges the archbishop to repent publicly of the sexual abuse and misconduct of which he stands accused. More
“Combatting the culture of abuse, the loss of credibility, the resulting bewilderment and confusion, and the discrediting of our mission urgently demands of us a renewed and decisive approach to resolving conflicts,” according to Pope Francis.
His remarks came in a 3600-word letter to the US bishops, who are meeting for a spiritual retreat January 2-8, 2019. The letter, Dated January 1, 2019, was released by the Vatican on January 3. Read the Zenit story and letter from Pope Francis
Please remember to keep Bishop Olmsted and Bishop Nevares, along with all the bishops of the United States, in your prayers this week, today through January 8th, as they spend time in retreat at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for our Bishops and your Church. More
New: Unprecedented Meeting Signals Importance to Church of Transparency and Accountability. Read the Story
Watch Bishop Olmsted address the USCCB in this clip from the Nov. 14 General Assembly meeting in Baltimore.